Parts of the southern United States were hit by severe weather and a number of damaging tornadoes last night in a convective weather outbreak that is forecast to continue through Wednesday this week.
It comes after a relatively slow start to US severe and winter weather in 2022, which as a result means that insurance and reinsurance market losses from weather events are running behind trend so far this year.
Yesterday evening’s and last night’s tornado activity hit parts of Texas and Oklahoma, with a number of tornadoes reported and some lucky escapes for major metro areas.
The suburbs of both Austin and San Antonio, Texas were impacted by tornadoes, but the storm systems did not drop any rotating tornadoes directly into these cities, which could have resulted in far higher insured losses.
At one point there were multiple tornado warned systems active at the same time and the towns of Kingston, OK, Jacksboro, Jarrell, Round Rock, Lulin, and Elgin, TX, were all said to have experienced damage to residential and commercial properties.
Severe wind and hail was experienced in the cities of Austin and San Antonio, but damage was relatively light, it seems.
Severe weather is now forecast for Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama on Tuesday as this weather system moves further east, with impacts also likely on Wednesday as the system continues.
Mississippi is warned to expect “strong tornadoes”, while severe weather and tornadoes could also extend to the Lower Mississippi Valley and central Gulf Coast states.
For Wednesday forecasters highlight a chance of tornadoes, severe storms, softball-sized hail and winds above 60 mph across parts of the South and Mid-Atlantic US.
Such extensive severe weather outbreaks can result in relatively significant insurance and reinsurance market losses, but as ever it will come down to the locations affected and whether any metro areas are impacted, especially by tornadoes or large hail.
Andrew Siffert, Meteorologist at insurance and reinsurance broker BMS Group, highlighted this severe weather outbreak yesterday, saying it could be the “first major outbreak of severe thunderstorms and heavy rain in parts of the central and southern U.S.” this year.
“This weather pattern is not uncommon,” Siffert explained. Saying that, “Spring often brings a sharp southward plunge of the jet stream that often accompanies an area of low pressure aloft that tracks across the Southwest U.S into the central plains. As these types of storm systems move across the southern states it will tap into a supply of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico where sea surface temperatures are running above normal. The tapping of this moisture and the clash of warmer and cold air leads to the development of widespread rain and thunderstorms in the southern and central U.S. That is what will occur this week and analogs suggest Monday through Wednesday are looking like a classic example of a Dixie Alley severe weather event. All hazards are expected on both days, including tornadoes.”
It comes as the US has so far this year experienced below average weather losses, according to Siffert.
He estimates winter storm losses are still below $1 billion, while 2022 has only seen 6 severe weather insurance industry loss events, up to this week’s outbreak, which between them have accumulated to losses of just over $1 billion.
“Since 2010 the average year-to-date average loss is $2.3 billion over 5 events; so while the rest of the world might be experiencing higher than average losses, the U.S. thus far is looking slightly below average,” Siffert said.
But cautioned, that the severe weather season is just starting, as evidenced by this week’s outbreak.
Globally though, Siffert said that industry losses are likely to result in a costly first-quarter, thanks to events such as the Australian flooding, European windstorms and recent Japanese earthquake.